Rutgers to Hold Conference “Media and Democratic Governance” – June 8

Rutgers to Hold Conference “Media and Democratic Governance” – June 8


School of Public Affairs and Administration
Photo Credit: Theo Anderson

Journalists from around the world will converge on Rutgers University in Newark for a one-day conference to improve reporting in and from countries that are hostile to an open press. “Media and Democratic Governance” will be held Friday, June 8, 8:30 am to 5: 00 pm, at the School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA), 111 Washington Street.

A prominent scholar and a leading practitioner are the keynote speakers: Sheila S. Coronel, Columbia University’s Toni Stabile Professor of Professional Practice in Investigative Journalism and director of the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism; and Kevin Whitmer, editor of The Star-Ledger. Other confirmed speakers include:

  • Kahraman Haliscelik, United Nations bureau chief for Turkish radio and television.
  • Nancy El Shami, an independent Egyptian journalist who has reported on the Arab Spring protests in Cairo, Egypt.
  • Salma Ghayoun, a Syrian pro-democracy activist.
  • Gary Pierre-Pierre, editor-in-chief of the Haitian Times.
  • Jongwoo Han, professor of political science and information technology at Syracuse University.

Newspaper, radio, television and online journalists from 20 or more countries are expected to attend. The conference is co-sponsored by SPAA and the Center for Media and Peace Initiatives (CMPI), a New York-based organization of journalists from around the world. The organizing committee includes reporters from Nigeria, China, Ghana, Spain, Cameroon and Poland.

According to Dr. Marc Holzer, dean of SPAA, "Journalists are an essential link between government and citizens. How they report the news can inhibit or promote governance that is honest and effective. We therefore look forward to developing a relationship with news people who seek to improve how their countries are governed."

“Diaspora journalists have the capacity to inspire change in undemocratic countries with new sources of information to scrutinize their home governments, orchestrating international pressure against unpopular policies,” notes Dr. Uchenna Ekwo, chair of CMPI. “Most journalists are trained in the art and science of reporting, but they have not received training in the content of government or public affairs. Our partnership with Rutgers is designed to fill that gap.”

The conference is the first of a planned series of events to improve media practices that promote press freedom. It will be followed by a week-long institute, featuring more in-depth examination of the issues, planned for late summer, and a four-course online certificate program taught by Rutgers faculty. The courses, each five weeks long, are:

  1. Public performance measurement – tools for assessing government efficiency and effectiveness;
  2. Journalism and government – the relationship between reporters and media, working with bureaucrats and public agencies;
  3. Political culture – how to understand and work effectively within the culture of the reporters’ home countries; and
  4. Policy analysis – how to understand and report government plans and actions, including public budgets.

The conference is open to the public. Registration is $59 until May 18, thereafter $69 if space is still available. Students may attend for $25. To register online, go to and click "conferences" in the left-hand menu. For additional information, contact Professor Michael Gershowitz at


SPAA was founded in 2006 as the first new school established at Rutgers University in more than 20 years. SPAA’s mission encompasses competence, diversity, knowledge and service, and the school faculty members equip future leaders and educators with the tools necessary to efficiently and effectively deliver government services. SPAA enhances New Jersey’s capacity to develop more effective government at all levels, offering degree and non-degree programs, research and technical assistance to make government more transparent to citizens. The school’s most recent initiatives include a national network on performance measurement and reporting, a municipal public performance measurement system, the development of the E-Governance Institute, and an undergraduate major in public service. For more information about the school, visit


Center for Media and Peace Initiative (CMPI) is an independent, international, nonprofit organization dedicated to the highest standards in journalism, primarily through the further training of journalists and media professionals. Its members are US-based news people from around the world, representing newspapers, magazines, radio, TV and online media. The center operates as a facilitator and partner in a wide variety of training projects, publishes and disseminates significant communication scholarship and advances the communication discipline through meaningful research, teaching and service.  CMPI shares a commitment to make better sense of the role communication plays in global politics and explores the connection between communication and conflict. To learn more about CMPI, visit

Media Contact: Helen Paxton